Cabinet offers $243M in budget cuts

Cabinet members said they could cut their budgets by almost $243 million over the next two years, responding to a call by President Obama to find savings in order to show a little fiscal responsibility.

The agencies came up with a total of 77 proposals for savings through a variety of changes in government programs. Obama had asked his cabinet members to come up with $100 million in cuts for the fiscal year.

Republicans had criticized the effort as insubstantial. The savings would be just a minuscule fraction of next year's $3.6 trillion federal budget.

The Pentagon said it could save $52 million by using commercial jet fuel along with military fuel additives, while the Interior Department said it could save $1.3 million by using retrofitted buildings that will use less energy.

More than $102 million would be saved this year, and another $140.4 million would be saved next year, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget. All of the proposals come from the agencies’ administrative budgets and could be implemented fairly quickly, said White House Budget Director Peter Orszag.

The White House said the cuts were part of a larger effort to put the government, expected to run a record $1.8 trillion deficit this year, back on a healthier fiscal path.

Orszag, in announcing the budget cuts on his blog, said the president believes "even small savings” can add up. Orszag added that there will be more savings to come from the agencies.

“And we hope that these steps will start to instill a culture of cost-savings and care when it comes to using taxpayer dollars,” he said.

The release of the proposed cuts came slightly more than a week after a deadline set by Obama. He had asked his Cabinet in April to produce the savings within 90 days.